Grassy Narrows Fights for
Eskasoni's Icon: Seymour
Sophie Pierre, Lifetime Achiever Seeks a Better
Future for Children
Interior First Nations Awarded Forest
Fatherhood, History, and
A Mother's Prayer for Son's Safe
CHIP Hospitality "Future Tourism
in the Bonnet: Circle the Wagon
Top Court to Determine Scope of
By Dr. John Bacher
Society corrupts itself
In the early 1980s Ganienkeh had
realized some of Hall's dreams for the creation of a drug and pollution
free haven for the Iroquois in the relatively clean environment of New
It was soon destined however to change into a center for organized
crime, causing its founder Cartoon, to eventually lead a Mohawk police
action against the remaining Warriors he formerly commanded at a critical
standoff at Akwesasne.
The brave Oneida journalist and police
investigator, Jim Moses, has traced the major shift in the nature of the
Warrior Society, to the Racquette Point incident of 1980 describing it as:
"The last time the Mohawk Warrior's Society acted from a purely altruistic
motive before the movement corrupted itself."
The Racquette Point
standoff erupted over a minor incident concerning the U.S. St. Regis Band
Council's efforts to cut trees for the construction of a fence around the
reservation. The Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs (the traditional
government at Akwesasne) interpreted this as an abandonment of Mohawk land
claims outside of reserve boundaries.
The Mohawk Nation Council
(the Longhouse people) refused to
permit the formation of a "warrior
society" at Akwesasne even if there were individuals who referred to
themselves as such.
The Racquette Point incident (an almost year long
armed standoff) created a law enforcement vacuum, which presented a few
opportunistic Mohawks with the change of a lifetime. The international
border was open for business.
The resulting smuggling activities
would draw the Warriors Society into the destructive vortex of organized
crime. It would also result in a conflict with the traditional adherents
of the Longhouse and the Confederacy that had been originally sympathetic
The most important factor was that the incident promoted a need for
guns, which would be exploited by criminals associated with organized
During the Raquette point siege, individuals connected to
organized crime offered weapons to the Warriors. Moses found these
gunrunners, with much experience as mob connected thugs, had "extensive
connections to the underworld in Chicago and Detroit" and had "very
Shady alliances form
The new organized crime connections
would be exacerbated in their dangers by other new developments, most
critically in 1982 after a close vote of 325 to 307 conducted by the U.S.
St. Regis Tribal Council, after the successful nonviolent resolution of
the Racquette Point incident. The close vote resulted in the dissolution
of the American Mohawk police force.
This situation would last 15 years, until it was finally remedied as
part of the coordinated approach to the problem of organized crime long
advocated in vain by courageous voices like Jim Moses.
communities were now straddled near the Canadian-U.S. border, with two,
American St. Regis and Ganienkeh, being no police zones. These communities
are only within a half hour drive of each other.
The Warrior's birthplace, Kahnawake, surrounded by Montreal, provides a
good location to sell such contraband goods as tax-free cigarettes,
alcohol and illegal drugs on a massive scale.
What made the border
situation so explosive for the corruption of the Warrior Society were new
sinister and cynical political developments by right wing political forces
in the United States, hostile to the earth protecting agendas of the
allied environmental and native movements.
sought to cut federal expenditures on native programs, have native
communities fund their economies through gambling and exploit native
governance as a weak link to undercut public efforts to curb organized
Since the alliance between greens and natives promised a
new form of people's power, threatening to big polluting corporations,
corrupt conservative strategists in the Regan and Nixon administrations
forged an alliance with opportunistic native entrepreneurs, who were
environmental outlaws, with organized crime.
A key architect of
the destructive, cynical policy to use native governance to facilitate
organized crime in the early 1980s was the late Stephen Henntington
Whidden, who had earlier served as legal counsel in the corrupt
Presidential administration of Richard Nixon.
Whidden, a Harvard
University trained lawyer in 1979, was serving as solicitor for a Seminole
nation when it clashed with state authorities over the installation of
poker and video slot machines in a bingo hall in Hollywood, near Fort
Whidden aggressively encouraged the Seminole nation to seek commercial
advantages by undertaking various activities, including gambling, which
were prohibited by Florida state law. Investigations by the California
Department of Justice would reveal that Whidden's schemes with the
Seminoles were part of an effort financed by such pillars of organized
crime as the Genoveses, the family of Sebastian Larocca in Pittsburgh and
the key financial wizard of Mafia gangs, Meyer Lanksy.
More than a
few Iroquois watched the Florida events closely so when the Seminoles won
their legal fight against the state to operate commercial bingo halls,
similar ventures sprouted up in Akwesasne, Oneida, Cattaraugus and
Gagienkeh. Each gambling venture was based on the assertion of Iroquois
sovereignty extracted from the 1973 Moss Lake occupation; only this time
the issue would be economic rather than territorial.
gambling, as defined by the traditional leaders of the Confederacy, would
appear in Iroquois soon after the Racquette Point incident in Ganienkeh.
Here, the community would follow the Seminoles and ignore state law
regarding gambling, which established limits of $1,000 a prize for bingo.
This resulted in the establishment of the Sunrise Stakes Bingo
Hall. Ganiekeh would soon pioneer in another activity unregulated by state
law. This would be the establishment of gasoline stations that did not
charge state tax.
The economic capitalists exploited the sovereignty struggles of the
Confederacy in ways that defied the very laws the leadership was seeking
to preserve, and without any tangible benefit to those aboriginal
governments that were entrusted with the task of defending the collective
rights of the people.
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